In our daily life home or office, we often in need for some additional electrical sockets. To meet our demand of extra ports of sockets, we will find power strips and surge protector of different kind available in shop. These lead us to the question are all power strips surge protector? What is the difference between them?

NO, power strips and surge protectors are NOT SAME! Their functionality is different. A surge protector may seem like a power strip but there is a protection system against voltage spikes in it. On the other hand, power strips are just multiple outlets.

Let’s go into the topic elaborately so that I can show you the differences and similarities between a power strip and surge protector.


What Is Power Strips?

A power strip is simply a long strip with a bunch of outlet in it which allow us to connect multiple devices to access power from a single port.

It has a long cable on one end is connected to a strip where the sockets are placed and on the other end a plug is present.

The second end plugs into the outlet in our wall from where the power is drawn and the strips provide us multiple outlets to power other devices.

The main purpose of a power strips is to provide us some extra outlet to plug several devices to draw power at the same time. That’s it. It doesn’t provide any other facility.

Figure 01: Power Strips

What Is A Surge Protector?

Surge protector is a protection device that protects the appliances from power surges.

Sudden power surges can do some serious damage to our appliances. However, this protection is not unlimited, they can consume a limited amount of power.

There is a joule rating in every packet of surge protector by which we may able to find how long our appliances will be protected.

Figure 02: Surge Protectors

What Is An Electrical Power Surge?

Power surge means sudden voltage spikes. It is a common phenomenon which can occur when lighting strikes or when our electric supply transformer hit by something.

It can even happen when we turn on some high-power appliances like AC or refrigerator. It is safe to say that our electric supply is not a smooth steady stream of electricity.

Surges can vary according to its seriousness depending on their reason of occurrence. With some serious long lasting major surge, our home and office appliances may be burnt, melted or malfunction.

Even small and micro surges can do damage over time. Like degrading our wiring and circuitry inside of our devices. Surge protector provide us safety from such incidents to a certain level.

Are All Power Strips Surge Protectors?

No, not all all power strips are surge protectors.

A power strip is a device which adds some additional outlets space to our regular power plug.

Whereas a surge protector does the same with additionally provide protection against power surges or voltage spikes.

So, how to defer them apart from one another?

It’s easy. One can see the variance in power strips and the surge protector when they came across the joule rating on the packaging.

There must be a joule rating on every surge protector to tell us how long and how much the surge protector will protect our equipment.

Now without the packing how to tell which one is power strip and which one is surge protector?

Well, it’s hard to separate them apart. We can’t always separate them just by looking.

Sometime surge protector may have some sort of indication like light bar or alarm system to tell us it has a low reservoir. When it is set “ON”, we know it’s time to change the unit.

Why Choose Power Strips?

If you only need more outlets and no need to have protection for power surgers, then you should choose power strips. Most of our residential and commercial areas are not provided with sufficient power outlets.

Simply it is inconvenient to include more than two sockets in one switch board. But it may not be sufficient always. Power strips become very handy in such cases.

When we have a multiple appliance to a close proximity it is very useful to use a power strip rather than having multiple power socket outlets.

Power stripes usually comes with a circuit breaker and several outlets with some sort of on/off switches. These contribute additional help in business and household looking to conserve power.

Which One Is Better? Power Strip or Surge Protector?

It totally depends on what you are actually looking for. If you are looking for protection against surges, then surge protector is better for you.

If you are just looking for multiple outlets then power strip is the better choice since it is cheaper than a surge protector.

As we see there is a lot of things are similar between these two items. So, it is not so easy to which one is better than other. We should consider some factor when choose the better one.

The Level Of Protection Provide:

The biggest and main difference between these two devices is the level of protection. We must keep that in mind that power strips did not provide any kind of protection at all.

If there is a surge, it is high chances that all equipment will suffer which are connected to the strip. For protection we must use surge protectors. It is designed to protect the equipment that are connected to the protector. But always remember what not to plug into a surge protector.

Cost Of The Items:

In term of cost, it is very clear that power strips will cost cheaper than surge protectors. This must be presumed as surge protector offers protection to our equipment.

However, the cost difference is not that high. We can easily get a power strip less than $20 in online or nearby store. Surge protector however differs in price range. Higher the protection higher the price.

In short, both power strips and surge protector offer different functionality for our electric equipment.

If you need just to add more device in a single outlet, no need to waste money on surge protector. Power strips will do the job very well. That’s how to prevent circuit break from tripping unnecessarily.

How To Tell If Power Strip Is A Surge Protector?

You need to check the specification written on the device to determine whether it is a power strip or a surge protector.

Surge protectors will have joule rating and maximum voltage ratings that it can consume to save the appliances.

On the other hand, power strips will not have such ratings indicated on the panel. This is the easiest ways to tell the differences.

What Can Be The Alternative Of A Surge Protector?

For a single appliance, we don’t need to use surge protector. To maintain a steady supply UPS surge protector may be used as alternative.

This device works independently, controlling power supply when main supply is no longer active, thus protecting its user and device.

With instant back up supply it ensures the steady supply while alarming the user simultaneously.

It may give us a short-term solution, but sufficient time to look for an alternative source of power, without losing any of our work.


This is a very useful and informative article for you if you are interested in electrical switchgear. Like I always say it is all about the basic that matters in electric works.

I hope the information covered here will be very helpful for you to learn about important items like surge protectors and power strips. This are devices we need in our day to day life. So, if you are looking forward to buying any one of these devices simply remember what I have described so far. It is all about what you want to do with it. Choose the right device for your work. Good luck!

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